- The Factor Vista CHPT3 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.
By all-road some might read a pure gravel machine, but I’d say that’s not really the case with the Vista. Yes, it’s built for paved and unpaved roads but the maximum tyre size of 35mm means the Vista is better suited to the road than the mountain bike levels of unpaved terrain that some gravel bikes are designed to tackle.
The geometry suggests a road bias too, with a 72.5-degree head angle and a steep 73.5-degree seat angle. The steep seat angle makes the ride position more road focused and the head angle makes for sharp reactive steering that’s ideal for on road riding.
Combined with a 610mm stack and 394mm reach on my 58cm test bike, these are the sort of numbers I’d expect to see on a sporty sportive bike, not a slack-angled, rock traversing gravel machine where frame angles are usually a few degrees lower, which provides for more stability and slower, less twitchy steering to help you track straight over uneven surfaces.
My test Vista comes in a special finish called Devesa, which was created in collaboration with British former pro-cyclist David Millar’s CHPT3 brand, and is said to resemble the bark of the trees in the Devesa Forest near Girona in Spain, and it makes for a beautifully understated bike.
Factor Vista CHPT3 ride impressions
On the road the Vista impresses with its combination of stiff frame and superb Thirty wheels from sister brand Black Inc., which tip the scales at an impressive 1,390g a pair.
The wheels run on smooth hubs and, despite being built taut and proving themselves to be tough, don’t ride overly stiff as some carbon rims can.
This means that the Vista feels like a sharp, snappy road machine rather than a lumbering off-roader forced onto tarmac, and that’s even with the textured and treaded Goodyear rubber. Put a set of road slicks on the Vista and it’ll become an endurance bike of serious note.
Factor’s unique OTIS-AR fork and double clamp design, with its in-front-of-the-head tube steerer, has been developed by the brand since the original Beru Factor 001 from way back in 2011 and provides the Vista with incredible steering response. It’s a fantastic bike to chuck into a corner when descending as it’ll hold a line as good as the very best around.
Factor’s carbon knowledge also comes into play here because a bike built with such a stiff structure up front could quite easily be uncomfortable (as that original 001 was). But a combination of clever material choice — where stiffer fibres have been used in key areas, such as the bottom bracket shell and head tube, to keep the bike power transfer and frame rigidity impeccable with regards to handling — and even smarter lay-up patterning — where the fibres orientation has been used to allow flex and compliance — means the OTIS-AR fork does a remarkable job of killing high-frequency vibrations and is suited to poor road surfaces and unpaved gritty, gravelly roads.
For those of us in the UK, and our undependable weather, it’s good to see that Factor has integrated hidden mudguard mounts in the frame and this smart fork too.
My test bike comes with Shimano Ultegra Di2 rather than the premium Dura-Ace Di2, but I think that’s a smart choice. There’s no denying that Factor’s rolling chassis is a pricey one, so Ultegra keeps the overall price a bit lower. It has a wider range than Dura-Ace too, so you can opt for more endurance/all-road gearing, like the 50/34 chainset paired with a very wide 11-34 cassette I’ve got here.
It suits the Vista perfectly, giving a light enough gear for the steepest hazard-strewn, unpaved climbs at the bottom end while still retaining top-end gears for proper on-road speeds. The Vista frame is also designed to work with 1x drivetrains with a removable front mech mount, and a 1x cover for the mount point is also included.
The Vista frame, fork, bar, stem and seatpost are all designed as a system, so the one-piece bar/stem mounts directly to the fork and the bar has a carbon lay-up designed to reduce road buzz. The D-shaped seatpost is constructed with long-strand fibre runs that allow the bar to flex backwards a considerable amount when reacting to forces, such as bumps and potholes, and at the same time moving constantly to eliminate fatigue-inducing vibrations.
It works in conjunction with the low-slung seatstays to create a seriously supple rear-end, and for the first hour or two I kept wanting to check our the rear tyre’s pressure to make sure it wasn’t a slow puncture.
Factor Vista CHPT3 overall
For all the excellence the Vista demonstrates on the road and light gravel, where it nulls vibrations and keeps things super smooth, it certainly makes a formidable all-rounder, but I still wouldn’t describe it as a gravel bike.
It’s far more in the territory of GT’s Grade, Cannondale’s Synapse SE or even Cervélo’s C series, in that it’s a remarkably good bike for occasional ventures into the rough stuff. But on rutted, rocky terrain the limitations of the tyre width and the ruts go beyond the vibration damping quality, so all you’re left with is a resolutely rigid front-end thanks to the unique fork, which makes on road handling so sharp and precise.
It still tracks well but it does rather crash through ruts rather than swallow the shock as a fat tyred gravel machine would.
Overall, however, I was impressed. Factor has transformed itself from an out-there brand making breathtakingly expensive bikes, with little widespread appeal, to one boasting a range of race-focused bikes and this tremendously well put together all-rounder that’s not afraid to stand out from the crowd.
Factor Vista CHPT3 specifications
- Sizes (*tested): 49, 52, 54, 56, 58cm*
- Weight: 8.59kg
- Frame: Carbon
- Fork: OTIS-AR external
- Chainset: Shimano Ultegra Di2 50/34
- Cassette: 11-34
- Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Wheelset: Black Inc. Thirty carbon tubeless
- Tyres: Goodyear County premium 35c tubeless
- Stem: OTIS-AR bar/stem
- Bar: OTIS-AR bar/stem
- Saddle: Fizik Aliante R1
- Seatpost: VISTA AR carbon
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Factor Vista CHPT3 geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 41.8cm
- Seat tube: 54.8cm
- Top tube: 57.5cm
- Fork offset: 4.8cm
- Trail: 6cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 7.5cm
- Stack: 61cm
- Reach: 39.4cm
- Rolling Chassis £5,250 (includes frame and fork, integrated bar/stem, seatpost, CeramicSpeed bottom bracket and headset, bar tape, Garmin mount, spare mech hanger, Black Inc Thirty wheelset)